Has Daniel Levy's Transfer Approach Changed with Tottenham Hotspur?
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy's name has been thrown around a lot recently—almost as much as his prized possession, Gareth Bale. It is no secret that Real Madrid want to bring the Welshman to the Santiago Bernabeu. For the right price—which now appears to be roughly 100 million euros—Levy may have no choice but to sell the PFA Player of the Year for the 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season.
While Spurs supporters may cringe at the idea of selling another high-profiled player (i.e. Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric), the option to sell Bale may be too good to pass up. If he does go, Daniel Levy will once again be a scapegoat if Tottenham fail to finish in the top four this season.
Still, Levy is first and foremost a businessman. In recent years, the checkbook at White Hart Lane has been fairly consistent because of the "cash-in" value that the club has received from certain world class talents like Berbatov and Modric. Gareth Bale will obviously be Spurs' greatest transfer value if he is to go to Real Madrid. Though unlike previous seasons, we've already noticed a change in Levy's approach during the summer months.
Timing Is Everything
It's safe to say Levy's transfer deadline drama has put a fair amount of stress upon Spurs fans. This is not to say Levy has failed in his last ditch efforts to purchase players. The Spurs chairmen has purchased Rafael van der Vaart, Scott Parker and William Gallas right before the transfer deadline in recent years. Last season, Levy obtained the signatures of Moussa Dembele (August 29th), Clint Dempsey and Hugo Lloris (both August 31) as the "clock ticked midnight."
On the other hand, Levy's last minute game of "call my bluff" has also irritated Spurs fans when the situation turned sour. Last season, Levy played a game of cat and mouse with Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho which ultimately fell through. The same can be said when Tottenham failed to sign Leandro Damiao, Wesley Sneijder and Fernando Llorente, among others.
When Tottenham finished one point behind rivals Arsenal for the final Champions League spot, it was difficult for Spurs fans not to have thought "what if" after their club dropped six crucial points between April 7th and May 8th, including a 2-2 draw with relegation-bound Wigan.
While it may have been easy to blame Levy for failing to sign another big name in 2011-12, the chairman is not going to allow fans the same opportunity this time around. Unlike recent years, Levy has brought in a few high-profile players well in advance of the transfer deadline. In early July, Spurs agreed to a 17 million pound deal for Brazilian talisman Paulinho. And as of today, the club has reportedly snagged Valencia and Spain striker Roberto Soldado for 26 million pounds. Tottenham fans will savor the taste of signing a prolific striker, which will perhaps put the team in contention for a Champions League spot this campaign.
It is no surprise that Daniel Levy is one of the toughest negotiators in world football. In past seasons, the chairman has been stern when opposing clubs have made offers for his men. Arguably, his business tactics have allowed the club to extract dense heaps of cash by stalling offers for players like Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Robbie Keane.
So in terms of the Bale situation, it is unlikely that his stance will change—as it shouldn't. If Levy decides to let Real Madrid take the Welsh Wizard off his hands, he'll want a fail-proof offer. If rumors are true, the chairman may be willing to sell Bale for an estimated 100 million pounds. Not only would this purchase break a world football transfer record, but Los Merengues may sweeten the deal by throwing in Fabio Coentrao, Angel di Maria or former Spurs-midfielder Luka Modric.
While Spurs fans do not want to see Bale leave, the reality is that 100 million pounds is enough to sign three or more quality footballers. If Bale is one of the top five players in the world, he will ultimately want to play against (or along with) the top competition (i.e. Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo). Will Bale be worth more in another season? He would need another stellar campaign with Spurs for that to be the case, and with no Champions League football this season, Bale may be less inclined to repeat these kind of heroics. Now that Spurs have a reliable striking option in the form of Soldado, Bale will logically see a dip in scoring.
There are even concerns about Bale's ability if he does join Real Madrid—such as his completeness, and attacking style. We've seen this movie before with Madrid: buying the best players in the world in hopes to stay in touching distance with some of Europe's elite. In 2009, Real purchased Kaka for a world record sum of 65 million pounds before eclipsing that number when a deal with Cristiano Ronaldo was reached later that summer. Real Madrid has yet to win the Champions League since 2002 and "breaking the bank" has not necessarily been the answer. While rivals FC Barcelona have brought up quality players from their academy, like Thiago Alcantara, who just signed with Bayern Munich, Real Madrid has opted to buy.
Levy, and Tottenham, have all the cards in their hands. With the squad they currently have, a top four finish is definitely attainable after the signings of Paulinho and Soldado. If Bale remains, title contention is not a far-fetched goal either. On the other hand, if Bale is to be sold for a world record fee, Spurs will have the option to fill in the remaining gaps in the midfield with the excess cash.
The business aspect of football is more of a poker game than anything else. Hopefully for Tottenham, Daniel Levy won't fold before the Real Madrid's chips are in his hands.
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